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DAV-CPN-Maoist union standoff hits students

KATHMANDU, FEB 10 - A standoff between DAV Sushil Kedia Bishwa Bharati Higher Secondary School and the All Nepal Teachers’ Organisation (ANTO) has taken a toll on thousands of students.

All academic institutions, from the pre-primary level to the higher secondary, in the district remained closed on Sunday, owing to a shutdown called by the CPN-Maoist-affiliated ANTO and All Nepal National Independent Student Union (Revolutionary), demanding reinstatement of three teachers the DAV Sushil administration fired in September last year.

Around 300,000 students from 522 schools—324 private and 198 community—have been hit by the strike.

The two political bodies have accused the school of using “unapproved Indian textbooks that “undermine Nepal’s national sovereignty.”

The unions are up in arms for the past five months after the Jawalakhel-based school sacked the three teachers, citing ‘incompetence and lack of professionalism.’ While Sagar Thapa and Santosh Jha had been fired in September, Rajendra Manadhar, who had been working in the school for five years, was sacked in mid-December. Manandhar was accused of conspiring against the school administration. “We launched stern protests as the school administration did not wake up to our mild demonstrations,” said ANTO Chairman Guna Raj Lohani, adding that everyone should protest the school’s act of using the Social Science textbook that, according to him, says Gautam Buddha was born in India and Mount Everest is also located there.

However, the school administration has accused the unions of politicising minor issues that have already been settled. It claimed that the teachers were expelled because they did not abide by the rules and regulations of the school. “Nobody has the right to play with the future of students to serve their petty political interests,” said Ram Chandra Khanal, the vice-principal of the school. He said the ‘controversial’ textbook is not used in the school.

According to the Lalitpur District Education Officer, Mankaji Shrestha, several attempts to resolve the conflict through talks failed as both the parties stuck to their guns. He said the DAV administration ignored directives to change the curriculum.

The Ministry of Education has formed a team led by Under-secretary Shankar Karki to investigate the matter and recommend solutions.

Posted on: 2013-02-11 08:41

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